Thousands Of Workers Protest In Delhi Against Govt’s Failure To Increase Wages & Protect Jobs
The country’s largest trade unions have launched a 3-day nationwide strike since Thursday, October 9, demanding better wages, jobs and pensions from the government.
More than 70,000 workers from across the nation, gathered at Parliament Street today, faced massive police force and parliamentary barricades. Under the banners of ten central trade unions and several federations of workers and employees, they represent the bulk of India’s vast non-agricultural workforce, reported NewsClick.
Although the country has seen previous trade union strikes, this is the first big protest by workers in Delhi after the Modi government came to power in 2014. There are an estimated 1.5 crore workers participating in the mass movement, pointing to their pent-up anger with the government’s failure to meet their demands. Scheme workers, government employees, banks and insurance employees, public sector employees, etc. have come together for the cause – a total of 10 central trade unions with only the RSS-affiliated BMS out of it. They have, instead, called for a strike on November 17.
The primary reason for the unrest is the increasing joblessness fuelled by low economic growth, demonetisation and GST. The workers wish to “highlight government inaction to create more jobs and protect the interest of the working class”.
“This move has two key focus areas—the short-term industrial-relations equation with the government and the long-term political opposition. While unions in the short term want the NDA to restart negotiations on reforms with them, the relay strike in an election season will highlight opposition unity and underline joblessness in the country,” said K.R. Shyam Sundar, a labour economist and professor at XLRI Jamshedpur, reported Livemint.
Last Friday, November 3, all central trade unions except the BMS boycotted a meeting with the labour ministry after the latter failed to invite the Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC).
On Tuesday, November 7, labour minister Santosh Gangwar had appealed to the unions to call off their 3-day strike.